After coming off the first road sweep under Steve Alford’s tenure, the media questioned our men’s basketball coach on several topics, namely, recruiting. Alford stated that there are a lot of Southern California guys that are now coming to UCLA, including five outstanding players for next year and additional players for the following year. Now that the Alford staff has been at UCLA for a few years, it is easier to reach the kids one to two years out before they leave high school, which wasn’t so easy in the past, especially when Alford was new. He admitted that we missed out on some good “one and dones” in the past, but now with an established program, they can get to the recruits sooner. With the faster pace this team is playing, Alford stated that it is important to recruit players that can handle that style of play, which can easily be seen in how fast this team moves the ball. He was asked if kids are more receptive to hearing the UCLA recruiting pitch, and Alford said that after having a bad year, guys can see how the coaching staff has handled both the good and the bad, and of course noted that this team is incredibly fun to watch. Recruits want to be a part of the “best brand in college basketball”.
When questioned about the close call in Utah, Alford said that the team experienced a notable lapse in energy, either due to the altitude or the quick turnaround after the Colorado game. This worries me some when it comes to conference play, but luckily the conference tournament will be played closer to sea level. Elite teams, however, need to be able to handle this kind of schedule. He pointed out that UCLA and U of A are the only two schools that have swept the Colorado-Utah trip, but not getting the stops they needed and missed shots led to the nail biter we all experienced on Saturday.
I have to admit, I was hoping someone would ask about taking Bryce out at the end, and of course, someone did. Alford was asked if he took Bryce out to have the best possible defense on the court, and I honestly couldn’t tell you if the question was fully answered or not. He stated that it wasn’t necessarily the case and that Bryce has actually improved quite a bit defensively (OK, dad, we get it). He was further questioned on whether or not Bryce had to be talked to about the situation after the game, and Alford kind of laughed it off and said that Bryce is more mentally tough than that. Thank God. It all came down to having two bigs in the game versus four guards which ultimately led to the win. So I guess that’s your answer and that’s all there was to it.
Here is the full video, courtesy of the UCLA Athletics Department:
And here is T.J. Leaf, Bryce Alford, and Thomas Welsh, courtesy of the UCLA Athletics Department: